The fact that Spalding made the region finals is the real story. The Jags first had to survive a tough match against Eagle’s Landing High in the tournament semis, needing inspired play from No. 3 singles player Kyle Spencer to get past the Golden Eagles by the score of 3-2.
No. 1 singles player Cecil Spear and No. 2 singles Casey Chafin both won their matches against ELHS, but the doubles teams of Colby Willis and Bobby Peek (No. 1) and Thomas Skinner and Greg Mason (No. 2) both lost and that put the pressure squarely on the senior Spencer’s shoulders. It seemed the pressure and the heat got to Spencer as he dropped a 4-0 set lead and lost that first set 7-5, but he rallied and won the next two sets 6-1, 6-4 to win the match and send the Jags into the region finals against Woodward, the reigning four-time state AAA champions.
“I think I let the pressure and the heat get to me on that first set,” Spencer said. “But after talking to coach [Greg] Crawford and hearing my teammates and fans cheering for me, I felt better. I wanted to make sure that I helped us get a home state match.”
After a marathon first match against ELHS (3 matches went 3 sets), Spalding ran out of gas against the War Eagles.
Spear lost 6-1, 6-1; Chafin lost 6-0, 6-0; Spencer lost 6-0, 6-0; Willis and Peek lost 6-0, 6-0 and Skinner and Mason lost 6-2, 6-0. The Jags finish region runner-up and will host a state tournament match against Westover either Monday or Tuesday. The Lady Jags tennis team will host Worth County Tuesday at 3:30 p.m.
CORRECTION: Thursday’s edition of the GDN incorrectly stated how far the SHS girls tennis team went in the 2005 state playoffs. It should have read three rounds.